Goonhammer Historicals: The Road to HistoriCon 2023

It’s summertime and that means the glorious return of steel – loud metal music blasting out of my open car windows, furiously painting pewter minis while marathoning tv shows, and the clash of bayonets at HistoriCon, the USA’s largest east coast historical convention.

What is HistoriCon?

HistoriCon is one of three conventions that HMGS (Historical Miniatures Gaming Society) puts on each year. Cold Wars happens in late winter, HistoriCon in the summer, and Fall In in the fall. They’ve moved around a bit but they’re usually around Philadelphia / DC metro area. They occasionally have GW game tournaments there but almost all of the games will be historical games of some sort – usually participation games, where you show up with nothing and play a scenario based game using rules you may or may not know.

HistoriCon takes place at the Lancaster Convention Center this year.

It’s been a few years since I’ve gone to an HMGS con – I went to Fall In a few times over the years but the timing for that one is harder because of work, kids school, and kids sports. It’s also a pretty long, brutal drive at eight or so hours much of it through backroads. Cold Wars is usually around the same time as AdeptiCon so that’s a no-go. My brother wanted me to go with him to HistoriCon this year so we decided to make it into a family vacation. He and I will be playing games on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with Lard America at HistoriCon while my family and parents go visit a ton of things in the area. Before that we’ll hit Gettysburg and the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA with the kids. An amazing summer vacation that any pre-teen would love to have, to be sure.

HMGS cons are usually cheaper than big cons like GenCon or AdeptiCon, but also a little less formal – the registration system is basically a suggestion, since tickets to games are free – when I’ve run games in the past I’d get half the people showing up. Usually you can fill it with others who are waiting but it’s just a different experience. There are tons of vendors there with basically any historical period you’re looking for, and hundreds of games to join in on and play. I use the con to play games that I really enjoy and try out new rulesets that I want to purchase.

What Am I Planning on Doing at HistoriCon?

If you notice above, every HistoriCon has a theme to it. I’m told that it’s kind of a suggestion but I like to follow it. I’m running two games that follow the theme – a What a Cowboy game set in the Old West and a Mexican – American War game using Sharp Practice. I registered for a few other games, including Sharp Practice and hope to get into some What a Cowboy and Pickett’s Charge.

I’m also going to be checking out a lot of the vendor hall stuff – mostly looking for terrain and minis for ACW / Mexico, Chicago Way, Dux Britannarium, Infamy, Infamy, and What a Cowboy. Of course you always find something you didn’t know you needed as well.

What Am I Working On?

Pretty much all of my Wild West stuff is finished. I painted a ton of Knuckleduster Minis and plastic Great Escape Games cowboys a while ago. I’ve bought quite a few pre-painted Wild West era buildings that I also use for ACW that work great. I’ve also grabbed a ton of unpainted MDF stuff that was easy to paint, plus a lot of brush and small bushes that will scatter and make the board look good.

My Mexican light infantry from 1st Corps. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

When it comes to Mexican – American War, I have a lot more to do. I finished my Mexican Force for the most part – I still need to do some cavalry if I have time. The cavalry are lancers and will fit in nicely with one player taking skirmishers and a line infantry formation, the other taking cavalry and a line formation.

My American infantry from 1st Corps, before paint. I’m about halfway done. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

This fight will definitely be asymmetric, as the war was. Mexican troops were poorly led and poorly equipped. I have to figure out a way to decently balance it so both sides will have fun. I wanted to include artillery on the American side because artillery was one of the differentiating factors in the war.  Here’s what I’m looking at for the forces:

Mexican Force (64 pts)
Mexican Level 3 Leader (9 pts)
3 Groups of Mexican Light Infantry, Regulars, 18 points (24 models)

Mexican Level 2 Leader (6 pts)
2 Groups of Mexican Light Infantry, Regulars, 12 points (16 models)

Mexican Level 1 Leader (3 pts)
Light Infantry Skirmishers (8 points, 6 models)

Mexican Level 1 Leader (3 pts)
Line Cavalry (5 points, 8 models, Lances)
US Force (71 pts)
American Level 4 Leader (12 pts)
2 Groups of US Regulars, 12 points, (16 models)

American Level 2 Leader (6 pts)
2 Groups of US Regulars, 12 points, (16 models)

American Level 1 Leader (3 pts)
Regular Skirmishers 6 points, (6 models)

American Level 1 Leader (3 pts)
Regular Skirmishers 6 points, (6 models)

American Level 1 Leader (3 pts)
Light Artillery Piece 8 points, (5 models)

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I’m focusing on the Light Infantry uniforms for the Mexican force and the regular uniform for the American force. The American regular uniform is very emblematic of the period so I definitely wanted to include them, even though much of the fighting was done by state volunteers wearing militia uniforms.

Other research sources I’m looking at include So Far From God by John S.D. Eisenhower, the US-Mexican War PBS series, The War In Mexico by Anton Adams, and The Mexican-American War 1846-1848 by Phillip Katcher and GA Embleton.

So Far From God, a Sharp Practice V1 supplement from TooFatLardies.

I’m going to be using the So Far From God supplement from TooFatLardies to build my scenario. There are a lot of things about version one of Sharp Practice that don’t really translate 1:1 to version two, but I think I can work them in as scenario rules. I love all the background, history, and tactical info that Rich put into this and every supplement.

Sourcing Minis, Terrain, and Trays

The minis that I’m using are almost 99% from 1stCorps. They’re all pewter and hand sculpted at a great price. They have produced pretty much everything you’ll need to do a Mexican-American War game, including regulars, volunteers, the different Mexican cavalry regiments, etc.

I did pick up a few Mexican and American civilians from Brigade Games originally from the Boot Hill line. Some are going to go on their own bases for interactions with the forces, while some are going on deployment points. I desperately need to include more civilians in my Sharp Practice games as there is a huge emphasis on them in the rules.

1st Corps Mexican-American War flags.

I made a big decision with this project to create new unit trays. I’ve had unit trays for my ACW stuff forever that are made of MDF that are grassy and green. I wanted to do a more sandy, desert type base with some scrub on it. Instead of having to purchase MDF from Europe, I decided to find some STLs and they’ve worked great. My buddy printed them in plastic and they even come with magnet holes built in so the minis will stay up straight. Goon Brin also produced some skirmish trays for me that are brilliant! You can see them above in the unit pictures.

The last consideration I had for this project is terrain. While I wanted some buildings to possibly do a scenario where Mexican forces are defending a town, I also wanted to get some scrub and different looking trees.

Spanish style houses from Empires At War.

I grabbed these houses from Empires at War to make a small town and they went together really nicely. They’re pre-painted except for the roof – I did a small wash and drybrush and they look awesome.

Canopy trees by Rocket Pig Games. 3d printed in plastic by my buddy.

I wanted different trees to show a different locale, but also because I was tired of the flocked trees falling apart. These are entirely FDM plastic, nicely printed with minimal gaps to fill. I glued mine together so they can stay together forever but you can take them apart if you wish. The design is here. Along with these I got a bunch of bushes printed to kinda simulate the chaparral in Mexico and give a little bit of scatter.

That’s all my progress at this point – I will have the American forces done soon and Mexican cavalry done after that. I’ll be writing up my experience at HistoriCon afterward so check back for that post game read!